Grant Dixon drives into the harness racing record books

For champion reinsman Grant Dixon to bring up his 5000th career winner in the sulky on his cherished Colt Thirty One, the man himself believes it is a fitting result.

The entire Queensland harness racing industry has been counting down Dixon’s victories in recent weeks as he edged closer to the major milestone.

And, after many thought it may have come earlier last week at Albion Park or Redcliffe, there was a sense of occasion about finally breaking through the 5000 barrier, becoming the first driver in the Sunshine State to reach the title.

The 49-year-old Dixon did it under the bright lights of Saturday evening metropolitan racing, behind one of his favourite pacers over his decades in the sport, Colt Thirty One.

In grabbing his 5000th triumph in the sulky, he also provided his seven-year-old warhorse the 50th victory of his own career.

Grant prepares his team in partnership with wife Trista Dixon and detailed post-race that their son of Mach Three has always held a special place in their heart.

“Obviously being one of the best horses Trista and I have ever had, he is one of Trista’s favourites,” he said.

“And, mine, as well.

“It is quite fitting for us.”

The team has had stars such as Leap To Fame, Our Overanova, Majestic Mach and Jeremy Lee, among others, over the years, but Colt Thirty One has stood the test of time for his consistency.

Of his 16 Group 1 triumphs as a driver, Colt Thirty One has provided Dixon with three, including the 2019 Blacks A Fake, the QBRED TRIAD title back in 2017 as well as 2018 Victorian Derby.

To land 5000 victories, Dixon joins esteemed company, including Victorian Hall of Famer drivers Chris Alford and the late Gavin Lang as well as Western Australian Chris Lewis.

The voice of Queensland harness racing Chris Barsby has been behind the microphone for a significant portion of Dixon’s triumphs and believes it is monumental for the code.

“He joins elite company in Chris Alford, the late Gavin Lang and Chris Lewis, they are the only three in Australian harness racing history that has achieved it,” Barsby said.

“To be the first Queenslander to get there, it is massive.

“We have been lucky in this state to have a great people and horseman involved in our industry, there are countless, but the Dixon name is synonymous with racing in the state.

“To have his name up in those lights, it is huge and I am sure he will be really proud of his efforts.”

Speaking in the stables just moments after the milestone, the Tamborine-based horseman recognised what it meant to be now mentioned in the same conversation as legends of the sport such as Alford, Lang and Lewis.

“It is great to be alongside the other drivers that have got there, I feel it is a great achievement,” he said post-race.

“It obviously took a long time to get there but I suppose I just kept chipping away at it and I got there in the end.

“It means that if you keep working hard and keep at it, you can achieve milestones if you keep at things.

“That is the main thing.”

One aspect of the milestone evening that put a dampener on Dixon’s emotions was that wife Trista and his children could not be on track on Saturday night to celebration the occasion.

Kate Butt from the Albion Park Harness Racing Club was glad to see the breakthrough victory come at harness racing headquarters in Brisbane.

“It is a very significant achievement that Grant has reached 5000 winners, the Dixon name and family is synonymous with harness racing in Queensland,” Butt said.

“It is fantastic to see a Queenslander reach this milestone for the first time.

“Grant has driven a large portion of these winners at The Creek and we are proud to be a part of the moment.”

Barsby noted that Dixon was respected by his peers around the country and internationally, as well.

“He is universally likened to a number of great horseman of the past but the thing about Grant, he has the respect,” Barsby said.

“The fact that he turns up every day, working day in and day out, working enormous numbers, his work ethic is something that you just have to admire.

“Not a lot of people can do what he has done.

“He has had health issues along the way but he has been able to dig deep.

“It speaks volumes about him as a horseman and how much he loves his horses as he is with them every day and he gives them every opportunity.”

The son of late horseman Bill Dixon, Grant took his first drive in 1988.

Now that he has reached 5000, Grant has three drives at Albion Park on Tuesday morning as he aims to add to his tally.

As a trainer, Grant is also nearing a magical milestone, closing in on 3000 victories, with 2937 victories to his name as of Monday morning.

By Jordan Gerrans